032: Deconstructing John Lee Dumas | 3 Warnings Hidden Behind The Success

At first glance, John Lee Dumas’s meteoric rise to entrepreneurial celebrity icon could be described as a Herculean endeavor of hard work mixed with good luck.  And on the surface it would seem like we have on our hands another case of Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon in the podcasting world… Right thing, right place, right time… BOOM.

But is it really?

Is John really nothing more than a nice guy who caught a lucky break?

There is not a single person who can deny the work ethic that goes into an online empire that has generated over $236K/month in a single month.  And the question on everyone’s mind is “How did he do it?” followed by, “How can I do it?”

According to success gurus like Tim Ferris and Anthony Robbins, “Success Leaves Clues” and can be reverse-engineered by observing, making a plan, and taking action.

So why then are so many falling short?

Once must only search the phrase “on fire” in iTunes to see the ever-increasing number of hopefuls attempting to ride John’s coattails, only to fade almost instantly into obscurity.  As more and more of these shows crop up, the Business & Marketing section is beginning to look a lot like an overstocked elephant graveyard.

Is this simply the inevitable outcome of chasing a freak of nature?  A phantom?  Or are people just missing the mark by looking in the wrong places for guidance?

After having the opportunity to interview this remarkable man, I now believe that I understand why so many are indeed remarking about him.  But it has very little to do with what many think. What at first may seem a yawning chasm between success and failure in the podcasting world is in actuality a fairly straight-forward process.

But there are dire warnings buried in this story of weaponized success.  Warnings for mere mortals who wish to follow in John’s footsteps, expecting similar results.

Warning Sign #1: The first of which being the name of his show has little to do with the reason it’s successful.  Sure it’s a great name, very catchy and resonates with the target market but for the love of all that’s holy not everything needs to be “on fire!”

Stop trying to copy it hoping to pick up search results that will lead to subscribers.  It won’t.  In fact, by his own admission, John acknowledges that virtually nobody can actually spell the word Entrepreneur, thereby leading him to use the URL www.eofire.com.  Yes, it’s a good keyword folks in the biz world are looking for, but by itself it does almost nothing to account for the results he’s getting.  Your keyword choice in your title will not get you to 800,000 downloads per month.

Keywords, while always being a nice way to potentially get found, are simply a way to establish relevance in the minds of your potential listeners/fans.

Lesson: The name you choose is vital, but even more vital is being original and clear.  Your name must resonate with your target market and be instantly understandable.

A great example of this would be James Schramko and his show called “Super Fast Business” or Pat Flynn and “Smart Passive Income,” or even this weird guy named Jonny Andrews and “Audience Hacker” ;). Those titles all say what the show is about and instantly get to the point for potential listeners.

Do the same.  You can skip the part where you then light it “on fire.”

Warning #2: The second warning sign is that the act of podcasting, in of itself, is not a magic bullet.

If you think being a podcaster will instantly make you rich and famous, you’re in for a real shocker.  It won’t.  Podcasting is simply a vehicle you can select to get you in front of people who might want to get to know you and buy your stuff.  It’s a vehicle like blogging or doing YouTube videos.

It’s a way for you to deliver quality to the world in a way that should make you happy.

It’s also a fantastic way to connect with major influencers.  Podcasting can be highly leveraged and go a long way, but alone is not a magic bullet.

For many who hate to spend time talking or are petrified of public speaking, launching into the world of podcasting will be like taking a bullet train to the 7th circle of hell.

The real magic behind why his vehicle is successful rests in 4 vital elements:

#1: He Knows His Audience and crafts each show for them by using a formula
#2: He Delivers Consistent Quality
#3: The vehicle works for him, resonates with his personality and end goals
#4: His guests tend to promote their episode

Ah-ha!  I think we’ve found why this particular vehicle might work WAY better than most.

If you were featured on a site like the Huffington post or NY Times, I’m willing to bet you’d tell a few people to go check it out.  Same phenomenon happens with podcasts.  Your guests will often tend to tweet it out when they’re featured.

Super Hint: If you don’t have a ton of traffic or your own ecosystem yet, you’d do well to consider starting an interview-based podcast.

But if you check his timeline graphic, you’ll see he was able to scoop up a few heavy hitters in his first 12 months.  http://www.entrepreneuronfire.com/about/ People like Barbara Corcoran and Tim Ferris who have some mega boost.

One big name often leads to another.  And another.  And another.

And you can bet this sort of guests bring a great deal more than 75 visitors.

In the “success” industry, there are a great many big names.  Here is where my 95/5 rule starts to kick in. If you’re new, you should expect 95% of the people you contact to turn you down.  Sometimes, it’s even 99/1.  But all you really need is that 1. That very first one to say yes.  Then you can, just as John did, leverage that “one” into more and more and more.

This above all else should be a lesson in setting expectations and persistence.

Bottom Line Lesson: Podcasting can be leveraged into a major source of authority, traffic and leads for anyone – IF it’s used correctly.  What’s more vital to note is that it must be used consistently over time.  What if John had dropped his podcast after falling from New & Noteworthy?

Commit to long-term consistent action not just a fast hit/quit.

Warning #3: The third warning is not to believe that John’ success happened in a vacuum.

The reality is John is wicked smart and his first step set him up to really win: He hired Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire.  In terms of investing, this would be the equivalent of going for the “smart money.”

What I mean by that is if you’re going to take on an investor you should chose the one who comes with contacts, connections, and a deep knowledge of your industry.  Don’t just go with the one who has enough in the bank to cover your costs.

From a podcast/entrepreneurial entry point/mentoring standpoint, Tardy is the apex of smart money.  Her show has put her on the radar of everyone who’s anyone in the entrepreneurial space.

By working with her, John was able to dramatically stack the deck in his favor right out the door.

John also puts himself out there.  A lot.

I can personally attest to the fact that a business can grows in leaps and bounds when you attend events – and even better, when you as the entrepreneur speak at them.  These sorts of situations then lead to opportunities to show up in major news

The moral of the story is this: Do not try to follow in the exact and very deep footsteps of John Dumas.  His show is his show.  His hooks are his hooks.  He’s been there and you can’t do that.  If you try to be another “me too,” nobody will care.

Just as John Locke rode and eventually became the “Kindle” self publishing wave alongside Amanda Hocking, John Dumas is the daily podcast guy.  That is his hook.  That was the controversy he created and rode on.  What will yours be?

On the surface, it would appear John is an outlier.  A shocking ninja-like freak of nature who is able to gather up his willpower and focus it into a laser beam of efficiency which none can replicate.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.  One CAN replicate his success.

One must only work on him or herself.  The reality of the good John is that he would have become amazingly successful in any industry he chose to infuse with passion.  Had that been square dancing, I can virtually guarantee you his name would be on every barn door from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

If you’re struggling to achieve something, it’s always best to not only look at the HOW did people accomplish their goals, but also WHO did they have to become in order to do it.  Attributes like leadership, focus, and daily action might be a good place to start.

To speed you on your way, here is a fast 10-step success plan:

#0: Decide who you are and who you serve…
#1: Get a quality mentor who can open doors/show you the ropes
#2: Pick a vehicle that fits your personality
#3: Create daily action rituals
#3: Monetize as quickly as possible
#4: Get yourself out there
#5: Focus on being upwardly-mobile
#6: Give without thought to reward
#7: Be humble.  Be kind.  Be grateful.
#8: Go to where the action is
#9: Focus on what works
#10: Believe you can do it and that you deserve it (hubris driven business)

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